Gamble Could Cost Jets Millions of Dollars – and Fans

I think the New York Jets’ selection of highly talented offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson will one day end up being a move that either turns out to be a stroke of genius or one that could haunt the franchise for years to come – most likely, the latter.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like Ferguson because I really do. He’s a mountain of a man who is as nimble as any offensive lineman who has ever played the game. It’s just that I think the Jets – and a couple of other teams – made a terrible boo-boo by passing on former USC Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Matt Leinart.

Yes, Ferguson had an outstanding career at the University of Virginia, where he was the first left tackle in school history to start in four bowl games – and he has certainly has tons of Pro Bowl potential – and some scouts say, Hall of Fame, however, I think the Jets – especially with their tenuous quarterback situation, would have been better served by drafting Leinart and building around him. Building a team around a gifted and competent quarterback is a lot easier than building one around an outstanding left tackle – although I must admit – that both are extremely hard to come by in the NFL.
I mean, it’s a great thing to have one or two all-pros on the offensive line. However, if there isn’t a competent quarterback on the roster – or in the Jets’ case – one who can’t seem to stay healthy – then drafting a quarterback like Leinart – who has franchise talent written all over him – would have been the smarter – and better – selection.

Leinart’s good looks and affable personality would have made him an instant hit in New York and put more paying customers in the seats next season than Ferguson probably will for the next decade. It’s not often that fans pay to see an offensive lineman “pancake” some unsuspecting defensive lineman.

Before I go any further, let me also say that I have always liked incumbent Jets starter, Chad Pennington since he played college ball at Marshall University. However, Pennington has had the toughest time staying healthy and appears to be about as fragile as an 86-year-old great-grandmother with every ailment known to mankind.

So, not only was Leinart the smart choice for the Jets, but one that I believe would have paid dividends at the gate as well as on the field. Obviously, new head coach, Eric Mangini and the rest of the Jets’ player personnel staff felt comfortable enough with Ferguson to select him above Leinart.

However, when the Jets are desperately searching for their quarterback of the future, in another managerial year or two, don’t say I didn’t tell them so. Maybe I’ll just print out a copy of this column and mail it to them. Then, maybe they’ll see the error of their ways. The again – maybe not.

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